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The 'Dirty Little Secrets' That Paralyze Decision-Making

Every day, businesspeople face critical buying decisions – from new software to revamped Web-site design to employee-training programs.  But all too often, the long lag time between recognizing the need for a new solution and actually purchasing and implementing it leads to lost sales, lost opportunities and lost productivity.

Sharon Drew Morgen has uncovered what keeps organizations from moving forward, and in her new book - Dirty Little Secrets:  Why Buyers Can’t Buy and Sellers Can’t Sell, and What You Can Do About It! - she reveals what potential buyers need to know to expedite the process of bringing positive change to their companies.

For salespeople and buyers alike, Dirty Little Secrets unwraps why buyers don’t buy, and offers a new model that helps buyers make good buying decisions.  She explains how current sales models ignore the behind-the-scenes complex of politics, rules, relationships, norms and behaviors that shape what a buyer ultimately chooses to do.  Morgen refers to this as a “system,” and recognizes its power in the buying decision process as critical.

Systems Keep Problems in Place and Resist Change

“Systems fight to maintain the status quo,” she says.  “When problems arise, the system creates work-arounds to maintain balance.”  These work-arounds then appear to be part of the system and become embedded in the operating environment.  Unless these stopgap measures are flushed out, and everyone who is connected to the underlying problem buys into the need for a real solution, no decision for change can be reached.

Using 'Facilitative Questions' to Gain Perspective and Move Past the Status Quo

Morgen believes that the only way to get past the system’s drive to maintain the status quo is for the potential buyer to recognize and manage the internal change issues that must be resolved.  She has developed an innovative way to achieve this vantage point – a Buying Facilitation® model that uses “facilitative questions” to guide the buying-decision process from start to finish.  Rather than seeking information, facilitative questions help people define their decision-making criteria and determine what needs to be done differently to make new choices.

Depending on the situation, such questions could include these:

How will you know when it’s time to add new skills to what you’re already doing?
What has stopped you from using an internal group to resolve this situation?
What do you plan to do differently to get buy-in from other team members?

The book offers examples to clarify precisely how buying decisions can be facilitated through the right kind of questions, including an in-depth case study of a marketing manager who recognizes the need for a better Web site and wants to bring in an external design team.  Morgen explores what happens when he stumbles in the dark trying to bring his fellow managers, the internal tech team (which is responsible for the current site), and the chief financial officer (to whom the tech team reports) on board.  She then presents the same situation using Buying Facilitation®.  The result?  “decision facilitation” enables a smoother, faster process that leads to a better outcome for both the marketing manager and the design firm.

The 10 Steps to a Buying Decision

In Dirty Little Secrets, Morgen lays out how businesspeople can use facilitative questions to enable them to move more quickly through the 10 steps she has identified as common to all buying scenarios.  The steps include:  gathering a buying-decision team; exploring the status quo; exploring work-arounds; seeking a fix with familiar resources; agreeing to an external solution; defining the steps needed to ensure total buy-in from all stakeholders; managing internal-change issues; strategizing with regard to money, time, personnel and implementation issues; moving forward to choose a solution; and final purchase.

Buyers and Sellers Alike Can Benefit From Decision Facilitation

The book discusses the losses to both buyer and seller when the purchase of a solution is delayed by the failure to understand how buying decisions get made and how to influence them.  It offers a method for helping people make the buying choices that will solve their businesses’ problems, while garnering the necessary buy-in for successful implementation. 

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